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You may feel like your online data and digital life are perfectly secure and you have nothing to worry about when it comes to protecting your online accounts. The truth is, we can all become a victim of social engineering attacks within seconds, without even being aware of it.

These attacks are simple for a hacker to perform yet destructive for the victim. Let’s look at what social engineering threats are and what are the best methods for their prevention.


What is a Social Engineering Attack?

Social engineering attacks are attacks by hackers trying to manipulate people into giving away their confidential information and giving away computer access.

These hackers are smart and use small pieces of information they can find on your social media profiles or trick them out of you using psychological tricks.

Here’s a couple of examples:

– Your security question is “What’s the name of your pet” and you have pictures with your pet all over your Instagram. They’ll use it to get the pet’s name and break through your security question.

– Hackers might call you posing as someone from your bank, asking for credit card information. They might even be able to provide the last four digits of your credit card, which is information they can track down easily from any receipt.

– Hackers might send an email pretending to be someone you know, asking you to click a link they’ve attached.

You get the point.

These social engineering threats can be extremely dangerous, and you need to learn about social engineering security.

How to Prevent Social Engineering Attacks?

Learn about the small but meaningful details of your social engineering security. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself from future attacks.

1. Mix it Up with Your Passwords

Raise your hand if you have one password for all or most of your online accounts: Facebook, Gmail, Instagram, Amazon, PayPal, etc.

Most people come up with one unique password and use it wherever they need to log in. However, this is making you super-vulnerable and prone to a social engineering attack.

If they manage to figure out one of your passwords, they’ve figured them all out!

Instead, come up with a unique password for each different profile, and you’ll make a step ahead in protecting yourself from social engineering threats.


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2. Security Questions Precaution

You might feel like there is some information no one else, but you or your closest friends know about you. That’s why you typically use that information as the answer to a security question:

– your pet’s name
– the name of the street you grew up in
– your mother’s maiden name
– your childhood nickname

But, what if you have an aunt who’s very active on Facebook, and won’t stop leaving comments on your pictures, calling you by your childhood nickname?

That’s a social engineering attack loophole right there.

To avoid having weak security questions, uniquely answer them:

– Mix up the letters in the name of your pet like Benjamin -> Nanijemb
– Answer in a completely random manner, just make sure you memorize it like 8hTn91O
– Come up with a coding system only you can understand

It will increase the level of security.

3. Don’t Give Out Personal Information

If you’re not sure who you’re talking to over the phone, who’s trying to befriend you on Facebook, or who’s just sent you that weird-looking email- don’t respond.

Hackers will try to crawl into your personal space, get you to trust them for just a minute and use that against you.

Therefore, watch out for the following situations:

– You receive an email from a friend, asking for personal information, or containing a strange link. Your friend asking you to click it or download something ASAP. Instead of doing so, give your friend a call and check whether that’s actually them sending you the email.

– Make sure your social media profiles are set to Private and only your friends can see your information. Even so, avoid leaving your phone number, email address, or other personal information available.

– If your bank calls you asking for confidential information over the phone, be suspicious. Hang up the phone and give your bank a call to ensure it’s them you’re talking to.

4. Be Suspicions and Not Gullible

Sometimes, hackers will try to invade your security by offering something like a prize, a gift, or a reward in return for you performing some kind of a desired action.

Some of these spam emails are obviously a con, but sometimes hackers act wisely and manage to trick you into believing them.

To ensure maximum social engineering security, you have to:

– respond to zero “prize-winning” emails
– suspect everyone, every time
– delete email titled “congrats!” or “prize winner!”

Trust no one and stay on the safe side.

Final Thoughts

Social engineering attacks happen more often than you think. You might feel like you’re not interesting enough to become a victim, or that your data is super-safe but that’s not a case, anyone can become a victim. Hopefully, you’ve learned about the possible weak points in your social engineering security and you’ll be able to stay protected.

Make sure to use the advice given above and stay safe from social engineering threats.

About Marie Fincher

marie-fincherMarie Fincher is a cyber-security blogger whose mission is to help people stay protected online, and provide valuable information about different ways we might become victims of hacker and cyber-attacks. She is also one of the writers at Trust My Paper.

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